The 5 Worst England Performances At World Cups Ever
England are not known as a great World Cup team, in fact they are not even known as a good World Cup team. However, sometimes they out-do themselves in how badly they do on the global stage.
Here are the five worst performances at a World Cup from an England squad.
5. World Cup 1962 – Chile
This might be a little harsh on the England team of 1962 as they were in quite alien surroundings and met some fearsome competition, but to exit a World Cup having won just one game is still a very disappointing showing.
Safe to say that few if any of that squad had ever seen the pitches of Chile before and they were handed a tricky group alongside Hungary, Argentina and Bulgaria. It was a tough task, but this squad was the basis of the one that went on to win the tournament in ’66. So the likes of Bobby Charlton, Johnny Haynes, Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt could have achieved plenty, even against good opposition.
It was possibly their first performance that cost them, a 2-1 defeat to Hungary. The Hungarians were still a force, but not the side they were in the ‘50s and England should not have lost to them. Defeating Argentina and then a goalless draw with Bulgaria saw them into the last eight having finished second in their group. If they had topped it they would have met Czechoslovakia, as it was, they faced Brazil.
The Brazilians won that tournament at a canter and they didn’t have too much trouble beating England 3-1 in Vina del Mar thanks to a brace from Garrincha and one from Vava, putting England on the plane home.
4. World Cup 2010 – South Africa
An almost entirely joyless World Cup for England which saw them scrape out of their group but then get embarrassed by their old foes in the first knockout stage.
It seemed to start so well when Steven Gerrard opened the scoring in the first match against USA after just four minutes. However, goalkeeper Rob Green had other ideas, gifting the Americans a goal and a 1-1 draw.
Then followed a pitifully bad goalless draw with Algeria and an entirely unconvincing 1-0 win over Slovenia to put the Three Lions into the last 16 in second place in Group C. Thanks to finishing behind the Americans they were handed a very tricky tie next up. It does not get much trickier than the Germans.
There was the controversy of Frank Lampard’s wrongfully disallowed goal, and Matthew Upson’s header had briefly given fans hope, but in truth England were battered by Germany. It finished 4-1 and there were no complaints with the result as they again exited having won just once.
3. World Cup 1950 – Brazil
Due to England thinking they were better than the rest of the planet, they hadn’t bothered entering the first three World Cups, meaning their arrival in Brazil in 1950 was their debut in the competition. Despite this they were heavily fancied to do well and went in as one of the favourites.
They started as such, beating Chile 2-0 in the opening game thanks to Stan Mortensen and Wilf Mannion. That, however, was the last thing they had to celebrate.
In the next game they took on USA, a team comprised of part-timers who had only trained together once before the tournament. Their own coach, Bill Jeffrey, declared they had ‘no chance’ before the game, and yet, they did. In fact, the Americans won 1-0 in one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.
Despite restoring Stanley Matthews to the team for the final group game against Spain, England lost 1-0 and were on their way home with their tails between their legs.
It is believed part of the reason for not competing in 1930-38 was to avoid the embarrassment of losing on the global stage. Well, they now knew exactly what that felt like.
2. World Cup 1958 – Sweden
This was the first World Cup in which England failed to win a single game, and for 56 years it remained the only one in which that embarrassment took place.
England had not showered themselves in glory in 1950 or 1954, they also had an inexperienced squad, with only four of the 22 players with total caps in double figures. However, three of those men were Billy Wright, Johnny Haynes and Tom Finney, so they did have quality in their ranks.
They didn’t show a great deal of it, though, as they drew all three of their group stage games and then lost a play-off with the Soviet Union which was for a place in the quarter-final. Not only did they not win a game, but at no point in the tournament were they even ahead in a match, something that, again, wouldn’t happen for another 56 years.
It wasn’t an easy group alongside Brazil, the Soviets and Austria, but they had the momentum going into the play-off. They had pinched a draw against Austria, whilst the Soviet Union had just been beaten by Brazil, who England had held to a goalless draw. But it wasn’t to be, losing 1-0 and heading back to Blighty.
1. World Cup 2014 – Brazil
It is back to Brazil for England’s worst ever performance in a World Cup, which just so happens to be their last trip to the biggest tournament on the planet.
England’s squad was not especially good and their manager was not one who inspired confidence. Add these ingredients into a very tough group which included Italy and Uruguay and you have a recipe for disaster.
Just like 1958, England were never ahead in this tournament. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy and then by Uruguay by the same scoreline, putting them out of the competition before the final game of the group.
Remarkably, the other team in the group, the huge underdogs, Costa Rica, had beaten Uruguay and Italy in their first two matches meaning there was nothing on their clash with England. The teams played out one of the most forgettable games in World Cup history – a 0-0 kick-around and that was it for the English.
They finished bottom of their group with one point and just two goals to their name. Never before had they scored fewer goals or amassed fewer points, and hopefully that shambles will never happen again.